10 tips for throwing a great New Year’s party
WHERE has the time gone? Christmas just ended and 2017 is just around the corner. It’s now time to start planning your New Year’s party.
Singaporean lawyer-turned-chef Willin Low was the host of A Party Affair, AFC’s first locally-produced programme that first premiered in 2013. He is a self-professed fussy eater who learned to cook for survival when he went to study in the UK – sharing recipes for fuss-free party dishes with viewers. His style is the self-coined ‘Mod Sin’, an interpretation of Asian flavours and Western techniques that seeks to stamp the culinary personality of Singapore firmly on the gastronomic consciousness. It’s a style that you’ll find on the menus of his Singapore bistros Wild Rocket, Wild Oats and Relish, and his Burger Bench & Bar.
Incidentally, a 2009 article in The New York Times decided that Willin was one of the three chefs who will change the culinary scene in Singapore, and he was also named one of the 100 most exciting new chefs in Coco: 10 World-Leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs.
“A perfect party needs three components – good food, good drinks, great company,” says Willin. “Two out of three also can – but frankly, you need the company component most of all. The food and drinks are the connectors for the whole experience.”
Want to throw a party to remember (for all the right reasons)? Here are some great tips.
1. Invite people whom you think are on the same wavelength and who will get along, but who are from different industries, so that there’s lots to talk about. It’s good if your guests all have one common interest, like skiing, for instance, so that if the conversation wanes, they can always fall back on that.
2. Do everything you can to ensure that you enjoy preparing for your party, because there’s no point in throwing one if it’s going to stress you out.
3. Always start with Champagne. You’ll get everyone into a more relaxed state and they’ll be way more forgiving of any little kitchen mistakes you might make if they have some bubbly first!
4. Always make a dip … to get your guests out of your hair for the last-minute kitchen tasks you might have. There is just always that one guests who’s early, so distract him or her with a dip! Just make sure you make it a special one, not something just thrown together without thought.
5. Always just under-feed your guests slightly (very slightly!) rather than over-feeding them. This is so they leave still wanting more, and they’ll come back for your next party! (But please, don’t leave them so hungry that they have to head to a mamak afterwards, because then, they probably won’t come again!)
6. Don’t think you’re a restaurant chef, because you’re not. So don’t be ashamed to delegate tasks and it’s okay to ask people to bring stuff … if you have a friend who makes great cakes, put them in charge of the dessert.
7. Always make sure everything is ready at least two hours before the party, so that
a) you can run out and get that last-minute thing you will inevitably forget and
b) so that you can have a one-hour nap, and your friends can say “Wow, you cooked all that and still look fabulous?!”
8. Have a interactive food concept, like Willin’s pie tee ideas, which will see everyone putting their own food together. It’ll lessen your stress and it’s fun for your guests! That’s why popiah parties are a great idea.
9. Have great music, it sets the tone.
10. Convince everyone to help you clean up! And in case you can’t – well, that’s why No. 9 is pretty important, so at least you’ll have something to listen to while you’re slogging.
Party Pie Tees
These moreish little bites take the traditional, much-loved flavours of Penang’s piquant asam laksa and the Mexican stalwarts of guacamole and salsa out of their comfort zones … and ensconce them within the equally-traditional Nonya pie tee shells to create a very modern offering indeed.
They fit nicely in with tip No. 8, and will encourage your guests to mingle and have fun, while taking the party-day pressure off you quite nicely.
This article was first published in Flavours magazine. Photos are courtesy of AFC.